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Talks with Pakistan to start new chapter of peace, says Sushma

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday hoped that the renewed dialogue between India and Pakistan will open a new chapter of peace and development in the region.

Making a statement on her visit to Pakistan in both houses of parliament, she said it had been decided that a “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” will start and foreign secretaries of the two countries will work out the modalities under the “new dialogue”.

“The new dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj said India had emphasised the need to speed up the judicial process in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack by Pakistani terrorists.

The minister said her meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and senior official Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad were held in the backdrop of “positive developments” of the talks by the two national security advisers.

“Both sides condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace. There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attack trial.

“The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion.

“This government accords the highest priority to the country’s security. In order to meet the threats, the government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels.

“At the same time, the government is also committed to building an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia, initiated by the government on the day of assuming office itself, are taken further forward,” she said.

The minister said there were two aims of the dialogue: addressing the issues of concern through dialogue and establishing cooperative relations.

The national security advisers met in Bangkok on December 6.

“They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquillity along the Line of Control, and Jammu and Kashmir, the state which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LoC,” she said.

The statement was made earlier in the Rajya Sabha amid din as Congress members trooped near the chairman’s podium and shouted slogans.

While the statement was barely audible in Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was in order when the statement was made post lunch.

Wefornews Bureau

Cities

Returning migrants pose huge challenge to Bihar govt

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daily wages workers

Patna, March 30 : The migrant labourers returning to Bihar has posed a big challenge to the state government — to keep them in 14-day isolation to contain coronavirus spread.

Over 45,000 people had reached the UP towns bordering Bihar and more than 100,000 were expected by evening, said a Bihar Disaster Management Department official, here on Monday.

Pratyam Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “Six camps have been set up along the Bihar-UP border. By Monday, we are expecting 1.30 lakh people to reach the borders. We are looking to provide them food and make arrangements for their stay during the quarantine period.”

The state government, he said was taking all precautionary measures even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24. After emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, the government had made arrangements even in the rural areas to provide food and shelter and screen villagers for infection, he added.

But the influx of workers from Delhi has created serious problem the state government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed displeasure at the migrant workers being sent back to Bihar.

“People from other states are being registered at the disaster border relief camps. Their health is being checked. After food and rest, they are being provided buses by the Transport Department in the district headquarters. Arrangements have been made to send them, ” said another official.

The process could continue for two-three days, he added.

Principal Secretary Deepak Kumar said arrangements were being made to send Biharis coming from outside to their villages. “All the Block Development Officers, Head of panchayats and sarpanches have been asked to monitor the situation and follow quarantine and social distancing norms,” Kumar said.

Those who had returned from abroad after March 10 were being investigated. The government has a list of 1,790 such people.

The Chief Minister after high-level meetings have ordered one-month’s ration free to 1.68 crore cardholders and payment of three months’ pension to all pensioners.

A control room has also been set up at Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to help people.

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Cities

Two Tablighi Jammat participants die of suspected coronavirus

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Tablighi Jamaat

New Delhi, March 30 : Two persons have died of suspected COVID-19 in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area from a group of people who had come from various parts of the country and abroad to take part in Tablighi Jammat, a religious gathering of the Muslim community.

Of the two elderly persons who died, one was from Tamil Nadu and the other belonged to Kashmir. All the participants aged over 60 had been admitted to various hospitals in Delhi. Out of them six people have been found to be coronavirus positive.

Shoaib Ali, the spokesman of Tablighi Jamaat, however, said, “We have no information of anybody testing positive for coronavirus.”

Admitting that two persons have died, Ali said that one of them Masgir, 63, complained of fever and cough and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Saturday. He was from Tamil Nadu.

“But they have not given us any report whether he died of coronavirus or not,” he said.

Shoaib Ali also denied that the death of the second person was due to coronavirus.

“On March 6, an elderly person, 65, from Sopore, Kashmir, had come to participate in Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area. He died of a heart attack in Kashmir last week,” Ali said. However, according to reports in the Kashmir media, he was coronavirus positive.

However, Ali confirmed that the entire area has been cordoned off and about 2000 people have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus in this thickly populated area of South Delhi.

This is the largest single group being tested for the highly contagious COVID-19, which is transmitted easily from person to person.

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DTC to allow only essential services providers in buses

Since the announcement of 21-day lockdown, only half of the DTC buses are plying.

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New Delhi, March 30 : The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), here on Monday, said only those who were involved in providing essential services would be allowed to travel in its buses.

In a March 29 order released on Monday, Managing Director Garima Gupta asked Depot Managers to ensure that buses should have a sticker — “for staff of essential services only and on government duty” — pasted on the front windscreen. The buses should not display route number or destination, she added.

“The conductors should allow only those who are involved in providing essential services after seeing their official identity cards,” Gupta said.

The Depot Managers have also been asked to issue the duty passes to all working employees for their movement between workplace and house.

Since the announcement of 21-day lockdown, only half of the DTC buses are plying.

The steps have been taken to “discourage” movement of migrants and daily wagers in Delhi. Soon after the announcement of lockdown, thousands of migrants and daily wagers started walking back home due to lack of food, shelter and employment opportunities.

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